"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wThursday, February 27, 2003

BACK(ISH): In the wee hours of the morning, I put the finishing touches on story number three (of four) for this issue. Currently, I'm waiting for Elections B.C. to get their act together and let me know how a recall petition turned out. Once I'm finished that story, I'll need to sleep for a bit. So y'all may hear back from me later today but I wouldn't bank on it.

posted by Jeremy at 11:23 AM

wTuesday, February 25, 2003

CORRECTION: Just got this letter from Chris Caldwell, as a follow up to his last one:

Dear Jeremy,

I heard this evening that you had mentioned Hill of Beans in Jeremiads, and I wanted to thank you for the kind valediction.

To set the record straight, though, Jeff Koyen and the new editors should not be blamed (or praised, as the case may be) for my departure and Mike Signorile's remaining. Stopping the column was my decision, based on a combination of their tight budget and my tight schedule.

I mention this not out of pride (or at least not just out of pride), but to defend Jeff against the implication that he's lopping off his best writers. Jeff, it's true, has less financial leeway than Russ and John and Lisa did, but he's very smart, and old-guard New York Press in the very best sense, and if anyone has a chance of keeping it a happening paper, it's he.


posted by Jeremy at 11:27 PM


MORE QUICK SHORT TAKES: I'll be back to my old self on Thursday. Meantime, here are some crumbs:

Chris Mooney admits that he was duped by the, uh, scholarship of Michael Bellesiles. Better late than never and, no, I don't intend that as an insult.

Steve Martinovich has Avril issues.

Best hed of the day: It's a toss up between Tim Cavanaugh's "Saddam, You Ignorant Slut" and Rick Hiebert's "Sting, call your office."

News of the death of Amy Welborn's blog has been greatly exaggerated. (YEAH!)

John Ellis says, hey, it was nice knowing y'all, but let's not get weepy or anything. (He'll be too busy crying all the way to the bank.)

Kevin Steel is not proud to be a Canadian and he's tired of people telling him that he is.

And, finally, my silly letter of the day comes from Jesse Walker, in response to the headline of the last post:

Regarding your most recent entry:

If I had a blogroll, I would blogroll in the morning.

Indeed, I would blogroll in the evening. All over this land.

I'd blogroll out danger. I might even blogroll out a warning.

And I'd blogroll out love between my brothers and my sisters --
alllllll over this land.

Whoops: I already have a blogroll. Never mind.

(To the tune of?)

posted by Jeremy at 10:36 PM

wMonday, February 24, 2003


Jim Henley has some interesting insights on the Daredevil movie (number one at the box office two weeks in a row; take that movie critics!).

Colby Cosh sets down in one long post his thoughts on the "Possibly Upcoming War Of The U.S. And Others Against Iraq." For what it's worth, his thinking on the subject dovetails neatly with my own.

Radley Balko wants you to buy him a computer. He notes that Andrew Sullivan recently managed to raise 80 grand from readers. However, Radley thinks that, given his position vis a vis Sullivan ("I failed at Catholicism, conservatives irk me, and I haven't even experienced so much as a same-sex locker-room towel-snapping incident."), $1,600 is just about right.

Kevin Steel has a new song for your enjoyment. If this journalism thing doesn't work out, he may have something to fall back on.

Kathy Shaidle rebuts charges of a Catholic conspiracy in the Canadian media.

Glenn Reynolds et al are having no end of fun over this four horsemen business. I think one of the things that so infuriates critics of bloggers is that we have a knack for embracing their criticisms (e.g., Andrew Sullivan's "Unfit to print"; Reynolds' "The New York Times of the bloggers").

Brian Doherty sticks up for pyro in rock clubs (er, I think).

Steve Martinovich is very happy about Avril Lavigne's shut out at the Grammy's. It's nothing personal, you understand. He just can't stand "that faux-angst skater garbage she calls music."

And, finally, the latest from Rebecca Grace:

"And then so the Talent Show auditions are coming up like really soon and I've already signed up, and I'm just like totally freaked out, because I'm going to be like singing, and so it's just like totally like oh my god. See, Alistair could probably go in it, but then by the time the actual talent show was on, he totally wouldn't be here, because he's just like going back to Australia at the end of March, and before that they're going to Lake Louise, and then Mexico, and it's just like they like never stay in the same place for more than like, a week, which makes me realize how little of a life I have. I mean, Alistair does Choir, Concert Band, Rugby, and Swimming. And I do Choir. That's it. I mean, what's up with that?"

Good question.

I may not post for a couple of days because of deadlines and because my neck is out of joint and it pretty much hurts to do anything, including think. Such is life.

posted by Jeremy at 5:05 PM

wFriday, February 21, 2003

MAKE HIS MARVEL: Nick Gillespie today takes a whack at explaining why Daredevil in particular, and Marvel characters in general, are proving to be such a hit at the box office. He links to an essay that I wrote last summer about how (and why) Marvel Comics almost bought the farm during the '90s.

posted by Jeremy at 5:45 PM


NOW I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A CANADIAN: Yesterday, coming through the local border in mid morning after a night of merriment and revelry, I was given the third, fourth and fifth degree by a new border guard. He asked what I did. When I replied "freelance writer," he continued "So, you don't have to work today?" (Apparently, the concept of "freelance" was a little too much for him.) He also asked if I had ever been arrested and damn near insinuated that the car I was driving was stolen.

This extra hastle was new to me but I have Canadian friends who get that sort of thing every time they cross the 49th parallel. No wonder some of them end up contemptuous of the U.S.

posted by Jeremy at 12:37 PM

wThursday, February 20, 2003

PEARL: The tributes to Danny Pearl have begun to roll in. Here's what I had to say last July about how Pearl might regard this attention. And, no, I still haven't looked at the video of his death.

posted by Jeremy at 10:52 PM


SILLY LETTER OF THE DAY: I let slip in a phone conversation to Kevin Steel that I had started taking zinc to ward off colds. His response:


Zinc does prevent colds, so if your intention is to keep away the flu bug, then it's probably a good idea to take it.

My only caveat is that it is somewhat alien. You saw in the movie Signs, those kids wearing tinfoil helmets to keep the aliens from reading their thoughts. But taking zinc you are in fact putting the metal inside your brain, making it easier for aliens to download your brainwaves.

The reason you don't get colds is because the aliens are trying to keep their specimens healthy for further study. It's a bit of a trade-off, actually.

You have been warned.


posted by Jeremy at 10:44 PM

wWednesday, February 19, 2003

TUNA ANYONE?: This must be a bad week to be an acerbic right winger, on both sides of the 49th parallel. First I learn that Christopher Caldwell's expertise didn't ammount to, ahem, a hill of beans to the new New York Press management (though they let the retrograde Michelangelo Signorile stick around; go figure), then I find out (via Colby Cosh and Rick Hiebert) that Ric Dolphin has been sacked by the Calgary Herald, for insensitivity and other crimes against humanity.

Dolphin's supporters shouldn't temporize. Yes, he could have phrased some of his criticism differently. So bloody what? I don't care and neither should anyone--and I mean anyone--who believes in free speech in Canada. Whatever the justification given, Ric's sacking is a clear example of the ungodly union of political correctness married to the threat of quasi-judicial action. If the press won't stick up for free speech, then it's time for the people to remind them who pays the bills. The Herald should pay a steep price, both in terms of lost advertisement and a massive reader boycott that will only be lifted when Ric is re-hired--without having to issue some sort of face-saving apology.

posted by Jeremy at 6:23 PM


SON OF A &^$#: Yesterday, I noticed that Chris Caldwell's New York Press Hill of Beans column was not in the current edition. I sent him an e-mail today and he responded by confirming what I suspected. With the new ownership, there will be no more Hill of Beans. It's the NYPress' loss.

posted by Jeremy at 2:06 PM


LINKS AND OTHER REPORTSTERS: First off, Razormouth has reposted a couple of entries, the first of the recent Vatican statement on the New Age thingamabob (I can't believe my spell checker recognized that as a real word), the second on Baptists and drugs.

In other Report weblogs:

Colby Cosh writes about curling. (You know, that Canadian sport designed to produce vigorous head scratching by Americans. So, is that low-contact hockey or...what exactly?)

KMG launches into Michael Novak over his Just War arguments and Vatican II. (Here's what I had to say about Just War not too long after September 11.) Best line: "Yes, and if Michael Novak had some ham, he could have a ham and cheese sandwich, if he had some cheese."

Kevin Steel is proving to be the most inovative of the lot of us with his design changes, his occasional blogging on a typewriter and his use of the site to showcase his music. ("Miss you most of all" has touches of Dylan.)

Dave Stevens has taxicab issues.

Rick Hiebert has all kinds of fun stuff.

And, finally, Kathy Shaidle has one of the best corrections I've ever read: "One of my sub-set of Loyal Readers ( of the 'I hate you but I read you every day' variety) writes to upbraid me for calling Bishop Gumbleton a 'useful idiot.' Loyal Reader has a point. I was, in fact, wrong, and I'm sorry. I meant 'useless idiot.'"

posted by Jeremy at 11:44 AM

wTuesday, February 18, 2003

EXPLOSIVE THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: I do not want war with Iraq, so I should logically fall into the protest camp. (Though the cultural clash could serve as a deterrent.) But here's a thought: What if the U.S. wins this one without firing a shot?

I'm not kidding. The defense department has made little effort to deny that one objective of renewed hostilities with Iraq would be to kill Saddam Hussein within the first 48 hours. However, the secretary of state has also made it clear that the U.S. government might allow the dictator to avoid this fate by going into exile. If Saddam, in effect, comes out with his hands up--freeing his subjects and handing the U.S. a bloodless victory--what would the anti-war camp say then?

I mention this because fence sitters like myself would have a hard time not concluding that all the saber rattling and troop buildup was in some way justified by such an outcome. The brutal sanctions regime could be relaxed, the U.S. would be forced to eventually move its military presence elsewhere and America could legitimately claim to have liberated a country from a brutal tyrant.

posted by Jeremy at 3:05 AM

wMonday, February 17, 2003

OF METH LABS AND BAPTIST SUNDAY SCHOOL: I've been getting something of a reputation lately for starting things but, honestly, I don't go out of my way to step on sore toes. I've wondered for the last year why some of my often lighthearted comments tend to provoke such a strong reaction. Perhaps I lack the sot of politesse that most people have developed in order to just get along. When people say terribly stupid things (and I mean really breathtakingly stupid, not just silly) my first instinct is to say something along the lines of "Well, that was dumb. Thanks for sharing."

I often manage to suppress that instinct, but sometimes it can't be helped. Today, for instance, I let it rip in my Baptist Sunday school class. The teacher was riffing on Matthew 6 ("Judge not, lest ye be judged," "First, remove the plank from your own eye," etc.) when he stumbled onto an item in the news in my small northwest Washington town. Just down the street from yours truly, a methamphetamine lab was discovered. Since very little happens in this small Dutch town, everybody and their aunt has been talking about it. It is alternatively "sad" and "unsettling" and a sign that the town's moral fabric is coming un-knit. (If the moral fabric of society had come un-knit as often as the doom and gloom crowd had pronounced it, we'd be living in a state of total chaotic anarchy. Which might be kind of fun.)

The teacher said that if a certain "death rate" was attached to meth manufacture, distribution and even usage, then we'd quickly see its usage fall. He invited upon to look at this as a good thing. I demurred, arguing that such a solution would be a) stupid, b) fascist and c) unconstitutional. (I really do believe that last point, by the way. I've said before that I think Americans have a constitutional right to get as high as a kite.)

The responses were both predictable and clichéd:

1. With freedom comes responsibility.

Great, Spider Man, but "responsibility" doesn't mean "Oh, hey, let's shoot people who do stuff that we don't like."

2. Drug dealers are killing people.

If you mean shooting people, fine. If you mean giving them a substance that they want, that may or may not result in death, then I think we should extend this logic a bit further. Gun dealers should obviously be locked up. So should those who manufacture or sell, say, rat poison. Both are used to commit suicide or to kill others.

3. They're breaking the law.

So? There's such a dense thicket of laws in this country today that a vast majority of them can never be enforced. I'm sure we all break the law several times a week and don't even notice. The law is often an ass and nowhere is this more clear than with modern drug laws.

4. If we legalize drugs, we'll end up like Europe.

I'm no great fan of most European countries, but we should remember that a stopped clock is right 14 times a week. The problem with most European countries (if I may be allowed to put on my ugly American hat for a moment) is too much statism and too little religion, not too much freedom.

5. The War on Drugs is too constitutional.

No it isn't. The Constitution nowhere grants the government the kind of powers that it needs to prosecute such a war. The Bill of Rights gives the people all kinds of vital checks against government intrusion that should frustrate attempts by the state to try to control our, um, precious bodily fluids. Most of the founders--who were most definitely not teetotalers--would be aghast at the kind of violence meted out by the government to enforce bizarre social norms. The prohibitionists knew that it was necessary to pass the disastrous 18th amendment in order to ban booze. The drug warriors should be forced to offer an amendment of their own.

6. There isn't good scientific research on the effects of many drugs, including pot.

To the extent that that's true, the lack of research wouldn't have anything to with the fact that the U.S. government tends to prohibit such experiments on the grounds that testing involves the consumption of illegal substances, would it?

7. Because of insurance and partial public funding of healthcare, we'll end up paying for drug abuse with higher premiums and higher taxes.

Response number one: So let's ban guns, SUVs and eating fatty foods. In fact, let's ban freedom. In terms of health costs, it can get pricey.

Response number two: There are already public costs associated with the drug war--unsavory violence prone types running drugs, super concentrated products being cut with possibly toxic substances, etc.--that would be taken off of the ledger if drugs were legal. This could, conceivably, produce savings for taxpayers, even with an increase in emergency medical treatment.

8. What about the children?

I agree with many conservatives and some libertarians that children present a problem for legalizers. But, again, the drug war currently has many negative effects on children--including, for instance, more drug-related violence in urban areas, or education that teaches children to rat out the recreational drug use of their parents--that could be diminished if drugs were legalized. It wouldn't be a panacea but, then, neither is the current arrangement.

posted by Jeremy at 4:04 AM


TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL: OK, OK, I admit it: My previous comments on the Angel television series ("the vastly inferior spinoff series"; "a crappy show") were ill founded. I bought the first season on DVD this Thursday and finished all 22 episodes by Sunday night. I loved it. Nor was I alone in this judgment. My kid brother, a Buffy fan who watched most of the episodes with me, thought that the show was just as good as Buffy and that one episode in particular, "I will remember you," was better than any single episode of Buffy. He's right. Here's a photo gallery from the episode.

posted by Jeremy at 2:19 AM

wFriday, February 14, 2003

COSHERY: Colby Cosh wonders if I knew what I was getting into when I had the audacity to call WorldNetDaily a "conservative" website, what with being a former employee and all. The short answer is no. I knew Farah wasn't fond of the conservative label but I couldn't imagine him expressing as much bile as he did over a column which was, on balance, very positive toward WND.

And with that, I am off. Life's too short to blog on Valentine's day.

posted by Jeremy at 4:25 PM

wThursday, February 13, 2003

DEADLINES AND CIRCLES UNDER THE EYES: Uggh. Finished the last of my Report stuff at three this morning. I'll be back later today. In the interim, read the young Rebecca Grace's latest musings:

"So I called Alistair but he wasn't home so I talked to his brother(Ben) for like half and hour because his brother is so much easier to talk to because he actually says stuff and so I was asking him if there were such things as Australian tree spirits because I had a dream about one and so I told him and he was saying stuff about Aboriginal Australians and stuff like that. And then he was like totally laughing hysterically because Alistair's other brother Cameron was like running around hitting people with a stick. Bah!" [more]

posted by Jeremy at 2:41 PM

wWednesday, February 12, 2003

NO BLOGGAGE TODAY: You know the drill: the every-other-week deadline has come around. If you haven't already, read my Jesus Sells piece. REMINDER: If editors of print or online publications would like to run this article, it can be purchased at Featurewell.com.

posted by Jeremy at 5:33 PM

wTuesday, February 11, 2003

GONE: Once again up to the Great White North today. Wish me luck (or say a little prayer).

posted by Jeremy at 11:12 AM


GLOBO-A-GOGO ROUND TWO: The current issue of Comment magazine continues a discussion that I helped to start in the last issue. The subject is globalization, and the new participants include Stuart Buck, Caleb Stegall, and Daniel Knauss (who previously accused me of idolatry).

My name actually comes up quite a bit in this discussion. Caleb Stegall opens by admitting that "The arguments seeking to temper Lott's enthusiasm for globalization seem rather impotent in the face of its apparent inevitability." However, he thinks that my argument about globalization advancing freedom, knowledge, and prosperity "begs the more important questions. Instead of asking whether we want more freedom or wealth or knowledge, we ought to ask what kind of freedom (or what kind of wealth or what kind of knowledge) we ought to seek and whether the freedom advanced by globalization is friend or foe to proper freedom?"

Ughh. Look, I'm in favour of the spread of freedom and wealth and knowledge, period, and I find most philosopher king attempts to limit such things to be rather self-serving ("My kinds of freedom, knowledge and wealth are just fine, thank you, but yours needs to be sharply limited."). Yes, there are probably a few qualifiers that I might attach, but they're mostly utilitarian ones (e.g., it might be harmful if the knowledge of how to build a better nuclear bomb was widely distributed; there is such a thing as responsibility or duty, etc.). Honestly, the thing that wrankles so much to me about the anti-globalizers is they want to drastically curtail freedoms, but most of don't want to admit it. [read the rest of the discussion here]

posted by Jeremy at 11:09 AM


BEST BLOG EVER: Ladies and gents, Rebecca Grace:

"So I'm reading this book, from the Sweet Valley High series, called Left At The Alter, and it's so cool. It's about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefeild, and Jessica is in love with this guy, Jeremy, who's about to get married to this girl, Sue, but then Jeremy decides he's not going to marry her, but then Sue gets this disease that her mom died from, so he decides that he has to marry her. It's kind of sad, but it's also really cool. I only started it yesterday, and I'm already like halfway through the book...

"So I went to Vancouver like last week and it was really cool, because I got to go to Barbaras house and Martha's house and then on Sunday me and Barbara went up to Grenfell, and I saw Salvin, and then I saw Hayden. See, me, Hayden, and Kevin have like known each other since like first grade and we have like always hated each other so me and Hayden were like yelling at each other while Barbara was like sitting far away, and it was just like totally weird. And I seriously should go now, because if I make this too long it won't 'process.' Bye." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 10:35 AM


NO COMMENT (FROM ME): The American Prowler has posted several reactions to my column and Joseph Farah's response (scroll down to "WORLD NET DAILY UPDATE"). I'm tempted to respond to some of these letters but I'm on deadline. Thanks to those who wrote letters in my support.

posted by Jeremy at 12:20 AM

wMonday, February 10, 2003

COMMONWEAL: Paul Baumann's tenure as editor of Commonweal is off to a fine start. The current issue has a good article on prolife Democrats, as well as a feature story by (drumroll please) Amy Welborn. The subject is her marriage to a laicized priest. She explains that this occasionally causes trouble because "there's no worse epithet--not 'pagan,' not 'Protestant,' not even 'heretic'--in a conservative Catholic's vocabulary than 'ex-priest,' a word which comes with a 'p' conveniently built in so it can be virtually spit out of contemptuous lips." After reading the articles available online, I was moved to subscribe. If readers want to request a sample copy, they can do so here.

posted by Jeremy at 8:28 PM


BREAKPOINT: Here's a better link to the transcript of Chuck Colson's Breakpoint commentary today. He mentions my Jesus Sells piece and uses the state of the Christian Culture Industry as a stick to drive home the point that modern evangelicals have little appreciation for beauty. The last paragraph deserves to be quoted in full:

"I spoke recently to the Christian Booksellers Association. It’s an outstanding association that has greatly raised the professional standards of the publishing industry and booksellers. And I’m optimistic that we are going to make a real effort to raise the standards of what it is we offer to the world. As Christians we can and should do better than the kind of stuff that makes us all cringe. An indifference to beauty, after all, is as foreign to the Christian worldview as an indifference to truth or to goodness."

Look, far be it from me to argue that we should have less beauty in this world, but one man's Beauty is another man's Beast. I really hope that Colson's attempt to combat indifference doesn't take a censorious turn. REMINDER: Editors, my Jesus Sells article can be purchased from Featurewell.com.

posted by Jeremy at 4:27 PM


'ECLECTIC' AS A SYNONYM FOR 'BRAVE': Well, my respect for Tom Ambrose just shot up. Even after all the recent messiness, WorldNetDaily's commentary page links to my article today under the heading "WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT WND." And I detect not a hint of bile or snotttiness in his summary of the article: "Jeremy Lott intones WorldNetDaily is a conservative news and views site."

The article argued a couple of things, one of which was that WND's commentary page has been both "eclectic" and stubbornly principled on standing up for free speech. That was true under Joel Miller and, I'm happy to say, it continues to be true under Tom Ambrose.

posted by Jeremy at 4:10 PM


JUST SHORT OF LIBEL: Joseph Farah responds to my piece defending WorldNetDaily.com (scroll down to Wlady's hilarious title "GO FINGER") by accusing me of theft, of being narrow, and of being a hack. He modestly labels himself "someone who, quite frankly, has more journalistic experience and integrity in his little finger than you are likely to accumulate in a lifetime."

My response is below his letter--I see no need to repeat it here. But I would like to add that attempting to understand what someone is trying to say is an important component of journalistic integrity, and he shows little sign of that in his letter. Because a few details in the piece upset him, Farah badly misrepresented the content of the column and issued a series of fiery condemnations that stopped just short of libel.

I deserve an apology, in writing. If Farah is man enough to issue such an apology--and I'm not holding my breath--then I'll post it on this website.

posted by Jeremy at 12:26 AM

wSunday, February 09, 2003

THEY MAKE FUNNY JOKE: Last night the Lott boys did a bit of tag team movie watching. First, the kid and yours truly set down to watch Big Trouble, but were so taken with the trailer for The Wrong Guy that we ejected Trouble and watched the other movie instead. (I happened to have both tapes thanks to a recent movie buying binge.)

Wrong Guy is a film written by and starring Dave Foley (of News Radio fame for Americans, and Kids in the Hall for Canadians) about a space case business exec who first threatens to kill his boss/future father-in-law and then discovers him dead. On the run, Foley bounces from point to point until he finally lands in a "proposed town" that never really developed after the Great Depression hit. His narcoleptic love interest (played by Jennifer Tilly) is the daughter of a local banker who is trying to save what passes for the town from being repossessed and plowed under for cropland by the evil Farmer Brown. Meanwhile, Foley just happens to accidentally dog the trail of the real killer, who mistakes him for some sort of a super spy. The Mexican standoff at the end of the movie is priceless.

Best line: Foley is picked up as a hitchhiker by a paranoiac who puts forward the "no bullets theory" of the Kennedy assassination: "His head just did that."

Then Andrew (or "Drew," as he prefers) decided to sit in with me to watch Big Trouble, a fun movie with an expensive cast (Tim Allen, Jason Lee, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Janeane Garofalo, Patrick Warburton--one gets the idea) that was delayed by September 11 and never managed to recover its momentum. I broke my five year rule on this one and am glad that I did. I enjoyed, but did not love, the original Dave Barry novel, but the story was a better fit for the big screen.

Go rent these movies, or, better yet, buy them.

posted by Jeremy at 6:22 PM


TO WELCH: Fun line from Matt Welch's regular National Post column yesterday:

"If there is anything that can unify Midwestern congressmen, French Gaullists and New York newspapers, it's indignation at the very notion that great decisions can be made without consulting them first." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 5:07 PM


DIFFERENT LICKS: KMG names The Vines' "Highly Evolved" as his second favourite album of this last year. I reviewed it for Relevant magazine online--one of the very few published CD reviews by yours truly--and was somewhat less impressed. Here's a prediction: My favourite song on the album was "Factory," for which I coined the term "ska anthem." I'm guessing KMG hated it.

posted by Jeremy at 2:08 AM

wSaturday, February 08, 2003

VERY COOL: As far as I can tell, Chuck Colson's Monday BreakPoint broadcast will comment on my Jesus Sells article. REMINDER: Editors, the article is available from Featurewell.com.

posted by Jeremy at 5:20 PM



By the way, I think Camille Paglia and John Paul II are on the same wavelength

posted by Jeremy at 12:23 AM


VATICINIUM EX EVENTU: Former blogger Amy Welborn opines on the new Vatican document on the New Age movement/religion/whatever. Herewith is my summary of her summary:

Welborn argues that the tone of this missive is more conciliatory than in the past and proves it by opening with two quotes. The first is from Pope Pius IX's famous anti-modernist broadside the Syllabus of Errors, which condemned what passed for the New Age movement in 1864 as "the synagogue of Satan" which sought to "submit the Church of God to the most cruel servitude, to undermine the foundations on which it rests, to contaminate its splendid qualities; and, moreover, to strike it with frequent blows, to shake it, to overthrow it, and, if possible, to make it disappear completely from the earth." The second is from our present document, which admonishes the faithful to try to "understand the often-silent cry in people's hearts, which leads them elsewhere if they are not satisfied by the Church."

Some have called the document (official title, "Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the 'New Age'") too accommodationist, and Welborn understands this critique. She thinks that the use of a lyric from Hair "as evidence," as well as two chapter headings that take their titles from Beatles and Beach Boys songs, was "rather unfortunate." Such selections "give an otherwise thoughtful document just the slightest whiff of lameness, like the intense 50-year old trying hard to get down with it."

However: "No matter what some might lead you to think, the Vatican’s recent document on 'New Age movements' is no sell-out." Welborn claims that it does a good job of outlining the New Age phenomenon ("hardly anything - from angels to channeling--is left out") and contrasting it with Christianity. (She quotes from it at length from the document but, sloth that I am, I zeroed in on her comments.)

But: That doesn't make it a perfect document. She criticizes it for neglecting Wicca and for failing to outline a concrete response that could be employed by mission minded Catholics. She also complains that it neglects fuzzy ideas of spirituality. The notion that "the only good place to find spirituality is outside religious traditions...needs a vigorous thrashing, and it’s not here." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:18 AM

wFriday, February 07, 2003

GONE: I'll be in the Great White North for most of the day Friday.

posted by Jeremy at 3:32 AM


THOUGHTS ON BUFFY: The growing concensus at Whedonesque is that Buffy won't be around next year because Sarah Michelle Gellar wants out. Instead, there might be a replacement spinoff show with Faith as the new Slayer. Most of the supporting characters, including Willow, Xander and Spike would continue but Giles would most definitely be gone (Anthony Stewart Head would not sign on for more seasons). The only question, reportedly, is whether Eliza Dushku (Faith) will sign on the dotted line.

As ideas go, that's not the worst one I've heard. Faith isn't a great character but neither is Buffy. The show rises or falls on a) the supporting cast and b) good writing. If they can retain James Masters, Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon, then I'll give the spinoff at least five episodes before making any judgments. But it's also possible that removing Gellar from the mix will so screw with the show's chemistry that they'd have been better driving a stake through its heart at the end of current season. Buffy creator Joss Whedon might be better off to radically rethink this thing and pitch it to, say, Home Box Office or Showtime. If HBO could be sold on the series, money would no longer be an issue. And it's a good guess that the added prestige might convince Gellar to stick around for a couple of seasons.

Another idea would to resuscitate a project that never got off the ground: a Buffy animated series. (Look at some of the awesome concept pics here.) The story would have to be simplified some but it wouldn't necessarily have to lose its edge. If the networks balked, it's likely that HBO or MTV would be willing to give it a shot, and going animated would definitely solve the problem of fickle actors.

posted by Jeremy at 3:31 AM


REMINDER: If you enjoyed my Jesus Sells piece, please (politely) ask editors that you know to pick it up. It's available from Featurewell.com and I'm betting it's a bargain.

posted by Jeremy at 1:04 AM


TA DA!: Here it is, ladies and gents: the op ed piece that took four drafts to get right. Here's a nugget from an earlier edition:

"WorldNetDaily commentary editor Tom Ambrose responded by accusing De Coster of 'fabricat[ing] her facts with practiced skill.' WND publishes and links to opinions that run the gamut, he said. Further, Ambrose stated, 'WorldNetDaily is not a conservative newssite.' 'What De Coster fails to realize while engaging in her malicious fit of terminal self-righteousness is that WND doesn't tell our writers what their viewpoint[s] should be.'

"I have several quibbles with Ambrose's assessment, beginning with his evaluation of De Coster's writing skills. The woman so often engages in Reductio Ad Hitlerum, that it's difficult for one to take her seriously. She recently referred to anti-SUV protestors as 'Fuhrers' and called Arianna Huffington a 'Hitlerian Blowhard.'"

Aw, go read it.

posted by Jeremy at 12:29 AM

wThursday, February 06, 2003

REPORT ON THE REPORTSTERS: Need... to... clear... head... Spent the whole day trying to wrestle an essay to the ground. I think it won. In any event, I thought I'd take a gander at what my Report colleagues are up to:

Rick Hiebert has links to all kinds of cool stuff: an interview with a search engine, the Republican babe of the week (almost makes me want to convert), and a U.S. invasion plan for Canada. (Hint: the captial is Ottawa, not Toronto.)

Kevin Steel wrote a pretty good song (listen here)

KMG is even darker than usual.

Colby Cosh is going down.

Dave Stevens is back! With ties!

Sorry, but that's the best I can do on a fried brain.

posted by Jeremy at 7:57 PM


NOT THE LAST WORD: In the recent ruckus with Radley, he said something rather interesting as an aside:

"I certainly don't look with disdain or contempt at anyone who takes his faith seriously (though, taking a lesson from Rand, I do think religion is partly resonsible for society's obsession with humanitarianism -- which causes far more harm than good, and, correspondingly, its contempt for selfishness -- which, IMHO, is the secret to human prosperity)."

Hmmm. It brings to mind an article from last year, in London's Spectator. Michael Harrington argued that Ayn Rand's toebreaker Atlas Shrugged was "a long, inverted and malevolent parody of the New Testament," and that John Galt was an "anti-messiah":

"Jesus in the Gospels used divine power to heal the sick. Galt withholds scientific knowledge knowing that the sick will die. Jesus sent his disciples into the world to heal and preach and save. Galt calls his disciples in from the world in order to bring it down in ruin. There is a kind of Day of Judgment in Atlas Shrugged in which Galt addresses the American people, having taken temporary control of the radio stations. He says, in effect, ‘You are in a terrible mess; it is all your own fault, and it is no use thinking that I am going to lift a finger to help you.’" [more]

posted by Jeremy at 4:29 PM


MISS UNDERSTANDING CAN BE A REAL WITCH: A lot of the feedback on my Jesus Sells piece thus far has managed to completely miss the point of the article. It was a defense of the Christian Culture Industry. But since it wasn't completely glowing, I've gotten a lot of attaboys for attacking the industry, along with a few protest letters defending it. One writer even referred to me as a fellow atheist. Sigh.

posted by Jeremy at 4:07 PM


DeCOSTER VS AMBROSE: I started a blog about the recent stupid flap and it grew into a column. I'll either place it somewhere in the next few days or cut it and use it here.

posted by Jeremy at 12:59 AM


NO RELATION: No, I am not related to John Lott. I guess that makes it a full blown scandal.

posted by Jeremy at 12:51 AM

wWednesday, February 05, 2003

THEY BOTH HAVE POINTS: Radley Balko responds to my earlier blog on his, uh, taste in footwear. I may reply, but I tend to dislike these long blog back and forths. I'm not persuaded but I guess I'll let him have the last word on the subject, unless people want to scroll down lower in the page for a comment by--and I am not making this up--Bunnie Foo Foo.

posted by Jeremy at 3:04 AM

wTuesday, February 04, 2003

ASK A QUESTION: Matt, I'm normally quite bad at answering this sort of letter, but you lucked out because you caught me on deadline and I needed an excuse to procrastinate. Well, first of all, the number one rule of freelancing economics is that they should pay you rather than the other way around. But you knew that.

When people tell me they want to try their hands at freelance writing and ask for my advice, I usually tell them to take 80 bucks to the local pub, blow it all on lubricants (of the orally administered variety), stumble home, and then think, when they wake up the next morning with the mother of all hangovers, "So this is what the first six months of freelancing would feel like."

I exaggerate, but only slightly. The freelance writer's career is, as a rule, rather Hobbesian: nasty, brutish, and short. Ask yourself, with fear and trepidation, "Is that really what I want?"

If the answer is still a yes, here are Lott's Really Stupid Rules for Freelance Wannabes :

1. All editors are bastards (including this one--and apologies to, er, my editors). I don't mean that they're necessarily bad people, just that their priorities are rarely your wellbeing. Editors are managers of assembly lines that kick out a certain kind of product. You are valuable to them insofar--and only insofar--as you can help them kick out that product. Keep this in mind.

2. As assembly line managers, editors have little time to waste. Make a story proposal simple for the editor to understand, and explain why you are qualified to write it.

3. This would strike me as a no-brainer, but some newbies don't get this: Include an example or two of your previous writing.

4. If you don't have previous examples, there are several sites (try here and here) on the Internet that don't pay. Write for those to build up a clips folder.

5. DO NOT DO blind solicitations. Get to know a publication before you send material.

6. Once you've done that, don't be shy. Send an e-mail and follow up with a phone call within a reasonable interval.

7. Try to pitch three or four ideas at a time. Remember, like baseball, this is a game of percentages.

8. Once you get an assignment DO NOT FLAKE OUT. Turn in the best product that you can ON TIME. In the event that a story or a piece doesn't pan out, let the editor know about this as quickly as possible.

9. Read like crazy. My (sometimes violated) rule is that I should read at least 20 pages for every one that I write. More information makes for better articles.

10. Network like crazy. Get to know people in the industry and not for simply (or flagrantly) opportunistic reasons. There really are some fun people in the business who you will be better off to know. They will be able to give you tips on your writing, avoid common pitfalls, and they might occasionally even pick up the drinks.

That should be enough for now. Back to work.

posted by Jeremy at 11:04 PM


FREEPERS CREEPERS: Long discussion sparked by my Jesus Sells piece over at FreeRepublic.com. WARNING: Only go there if you find the idea of Catholic and Protestant fundamentalists sniping at each other to be entertaining. Also, I now have empirical evidence that Reason should have made it the cover story.

posted by Jeremy at 5:49 PM

wMonday, February 03, 2003

SAVE RADLEY: Well, no sooner had I finished laying into Radley Balko than I learned that he's being kicked out of his place. As he writes on his weblog, "That would be my new apartment. That would be the apartment that I just moved into three f---ing days ago, the apartment into which I just yesterday unpacked the last load of my stuff." He asks, "Is there a God of rental properties? And have I done something to anger Him?" and concludes "I give up." (Given my previous comment, I will refrain from any theological reply.) The first version of the post even contemplated taking up heroin.

People, if you have a room to spare and you live in Virginia near D.C., please help the guy out. He can be reached at radley-at-radleybalko.com.

posted by Jeremy at 11:54 PM


UGGH: Enough God talk for the day.

posted by Jeremy at 8:18 PM


FOR GOD'S SAKE: I like Radley Balko but whenever he strays onto the topic of religion, he has a particular fetish for shoe leather. In response to a (rather lame) poem about God's mysterious ways, along with some stupid speculation about the space shuttle explosion, he opines, "No, I don't think it's entirely fair or accurate to compare Islamic zealots (loopy, dangerous, usually murderous) with Christian zealots (wacky, downright loopy at times, but not usually savage or murderous). But honestly, sometimes the Christian right crowd begs for the comparison." (Yeah, please compare us to the Taliban. No, really, we like being lumped in with misogynists and murderers.)

Balko then proceeds to ridicule Peggy Noonan for writing that she believed Elian Gonzalez's rescue was a product of divine intervention. Then he asks, "But then, why would God let Elian be sent back to Cuba--a remnant of Reagan's Soviet-spawned evil empire--particularly at the behest of she-devil Janet Reno?" The kicker: "HE works in mysterious ways, I guesss."

Look, some people "get" religion; others don't. The thing that pisses me off about so many secularists isn't that they believe what they believe. It's that they look with disdain upon those who believe something different than they do. According to Balko, religion is a very silly idea, espoused by very silly people, who should promptly knock it off and all think like he does. Somehow that doesn't strike me as a very libertarian approach, let alone a tolerant one.

posted by Jeremy at 8:12 PM


MARTINOVICH WEPT: I seem to have unsettled my friend Steve Martinovich while linking to his (to my mind) profound pictoral commentary on the shuttle crash. That was certainly not the intent. Today, he explains:

"Odd, I suppose, for an athiest to invoke the name of Christ...I don't do it often. I suppose when I do I'm attempting to use a common language to convey depth of meaning, not surprising given that Christianity is the dominant religion in North America. I told Jeremy this morning that what else could have I written? If Christ couldn't weep at the sight of the helmet...

"So am I a closet Christian? A lot of people say that there are no such things as athiests in foxholes during war, something I've never bought but then again I've never had to serve my nation in war. Who knows...ten years ago I was a committed member of the Liberal Party." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 7:54 PM


VERY SAD: Amy Welborn's giving up her blog:


I've decided to go ahead and do something I've been toying with for a while:

I'm shutting down da blog.

I began it for a purpose, and that purpose has been fulfilled. But now, it's taking up too much time, and I'm experiencing a real pull to direct my energies elsewhere. I was going to put it on hiatus for Lent anyway, but there is a project for which I got a strong, specific idea in early December that I really want to give some serious attention to (besides the Bible study guide which is due in two months), and I could be doing that in the time I blog. Thought I'd have made real progress on it by now, but I haven't, and I need to. I have that much faith in the idea. I don't want this one to be just one of the other good ideas that I've started and not been able to finish. I'm almost 43, and it's time to get serious about another direction in my career. I don't know what I'd do if, as has happened every time in the past, a year were to pass and I had one more lost project on my conscience, all because the pull of posting links to weird articles and posting my inconsequential thoughts was so tempting! What it is is that blogging has a weird way of both expanding and contracting your vision. You hear the experiences and insights of other people, but at the same time, the temptation is always there to just think in terms of those who making up the blogging community. I need to free up my brain and my imagination. So, this will be up for a few more hours, then...farewell to the 1600+ who come here every day. Or the 160 who come here ten times a day. Whatever! God bless.

(Besides, there are so many blogs out there, there's plenty to read. For news, you can depend on Holy Weblog and Relapsed Catholic, and Mark Shea, Eve Tushnet, and Peter Nixon at Sursum Corda and others offer far more thoughtful insight than I ever could...) [I wish there was more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:15 PM


HELP JEREMY: GIVE HIM MONEY: I have a favour to ask of readers. My Jesus Sells article is available for purchase at featurewell.com. If you're an editor, consider running it. If you know an editor, ask him/her (politely) to consider running it. I've resisted putting a pay button on this website and I'm not about to ask for straight handouts any time soon, but any help this time around would be appreciated.

posted by Jeremy at 12:08 AM

wSunday, February 02, 2003

MUNGERITIS: Well, Dave has some updates. Read them. An excerpt:

We must not tolerate any guerrilla activity in regions inhabited by wild gorillas. It’s too confusing.

posted by Jeremy at 11:54 PM


MOONEY'S...WHAT WAS THAT, AGAIN?: Chris Mooney sends out e-mail updates to friends and colleagues. In his latest dispatch, telling us about two new articles (the blogging one is quite good, by the way), he highlighted his recent freelancing successes by saying "Clearly, the Mooney gospel is spreading."

Normally, I'd let this slide but a) Chris is not only an atheist but a self-proclaimed skeptic who Speaks For Science and b) this isn't his first offense. In response to an article in response to an atheist-bashing article by Jim Holt, Chris retracted his claws in deference to the, ah, holiday season (actually, he used the word CHRISTMAS). I'm thinking his skeptic friends should hold an intervention. He's definitely slipping.

posted by Jeremy at 11:50 PM


HOW TO BE IRONIC: I went to the counter at Barnes & Noble yesterday to inquire about Ben Stein's new book. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I'm looking for Ben Stein's new book.

Sales Lady (looking it up): The title is How to Ruin Your Life.

M: And where is that located?

SL (looking at the screen): It's in the self-help section.

posted by Jeremy at 11:30 PM


PICTORAL COMMENT: Steve Martinovich--believe it or not, an agnostic--had this to say about the shuttle crash.

posted by Jeremy at 11:23 PM

wSaturday, February 01, 2003

CROSSFIRE HURRICANE: I was going to blog about a few things today but, honestly, who cares what I have to say about anything right now? (I certainly don't.) Go read what Colby Cosh has to say about the sad, sad crash of the space shuttle

Much is being made, in the weblog world, of a claim that a CBC Newsworld interviewer questioned aloud whether "American arrogance" had had anything to do with this morning's accident. Disgusting if true, but I for one was almost equally offended by Adrienne Arsenault's repeated claims, on the main CBC network, that this incident will create "political problems" for NASA and enfeeble the American will to explore space. How little she knows about the United States. If history teaches one unambiguous lesson, it is the foolishness of underestimating America. I don't speak of "resolve" or "spirit": these are unsuitable words to denote the blind, guileless, elemental cussedness of an axe clearing a homestead, a pioneer crossing a salt flat in a thirty-cent wagon. For my part, I expect that the "arrogance" which sent the first free men into Earth orbit, and put them on the surface of a heavenly body, will be unblunted by these seven deaths. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 6:09 PM


DENIED: Reader Paul Cella informs me that, alas, my piece on CAIR in the new issue of The American Conservative is not the cover story. (For those who are not yet aware of TAC, it's a bi-weekly review edited by Taki, Scott McConnell and Deep Throat.)

posted by Jeremy at 4:23 AM